Above: Tristan Turner (right) shakes hands with friend and nominator Evan MacDonald during Friday night’s nomination meeting at the cultural centre. – Submitted Photo
by Colin Smith
When the next Alberta general election is called, Tristan Turner will be the NDP candidate in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. The party’s constituency nomination meeting took place Mar. 27 at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Turner was the only one who put his name forward by the deadline and became the candidate by acclamation.
While a provincial election isn’t mandated until 2016, it’s widely anticipated that Premier Jim Prentice will call one within the next couple of weeks.
This election will be the first time that Turner has stood as a general election candidate. In fact, at age 18, this will be the first time he votes in a provincial election.
However, his familiarity with the issues and polished delivery point to a firm acquaintance with politics.
Turner, born and brought up in Morinville, has been active in politics for years. He become involved at age 14 as a member of the New Democratic Youth of Alberta and was chosen as the group’s federal youth liaison.
“I’ve been a volunteer in the community for most of my life,” he said in a recent interview.
In addition to his party commitments, Turner founded the Morinville Interact Club, a youth offshoot of the Morinville Rotary Club. The club organized a trip to Mexico in order for members to help former dump dwellers establish a daycare.
When he was 16, Turner began writing the Progressive Views column for the Morinville News, and later began doing coverage of Town Council and provincial politics.
As a result of his efforts to engage youth in public affairs, he received recognition in the 2014 Top 30 Under 30 Magazine from the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, which works for sustainable human development.
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In September, Turner started a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the University of Alberta. Since last summer, he has also been working as a library assistant at the Morinville Community Library.
It is his years of experience in politics and journalism that Turner believes will make an effective candidate.
“I’ve been a strong advocate for issues,” he stated. “I’m a consistent supporter of public services.”
Changing the way the Alberta government does business is a major priority.
“We need to fix [the] revenue problem,” said Turner. “There have been years of Tory mismanagement. Here in Alberta we don’t have to be tied to the price of oil to see kids get a good education, to ensure good hospital care, to invest in the infrastructure we need.”
He pointed to the fact Alberta is the only province without a progressive income tax and that it has the lowest corporate tax rate.
“This only benefits corporate executives and rich people, people who have the government’s ear,” he said. “Young families starting out can’t get a foothold. It’s not common sense.”
Leadership is another big issue, Turner feels.
“Competent leadership is needed and we’re not getting it with Jim Prentice,” he declared. “Locally we’re not getting it with (current MLA) Maureen Kubinec.”
Electoral success might seem elusive in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, where the NDP has never won as much as 10 per cent of the vote in the three elections held since the district was established.
But Turner is confident the party can do much better.
“I think a lot of the problem has been there hasn’t been a real substantive campaign,” he said. “It’s that people aren’t becoming aware of the NDP perspective.”
He reasons that may change. With a strong local candidate they can turn the tide here.
“I think people will be responsive,” he said. “The values of the NDP are resonating with people. Common sense solutions are resonating.”